Main definitions of game in English

: game1game2



  • 1An activity that one engages in for amusement or fun.

    ‘the kids were playing a game with their balloons’
    • ‘Evening entertainment included games of ludo, snakes and ladders and draughts.’
    • ‘There will be games, amusements and activities for all the family.’
    • ‘A host of games and other entertainment activities were laid on around the grounds of the pier and Walking Street.’
    • ‘This club provides weekly activities, games and amusement for the youth.’
    • ‘But few other games really engage the intellect, instead of just the reflexes.’
    • ‘Fun and games aside, the lesson is stark and one that should be taken very seriously.’
    • ‘Sophie recalled childhood games in the school playground.’
    • ‘It will feature a magical wonderland of sculptures, games, attractions and entertainment.’
    • ‘The same applies when the children are taken out to fun fairs where they have to mount a wide selection of amusement games.’
    • ‘This had been a childhood game of theirs - to startle the rider into unseating themselves.’
    • ‘A teddy bears' picnic, games, entertainment and a cake will be laid on for the event on July 16.’
    • ‘What will happen when all the childhood games are completed?’
    • ‘The tiny hidden corridors had played a major part in some of her childhood games.’
    • ‘Doctors and therapists therefore have to invent exercises and games to entertain these patients and stop them from getting frustrated.’
    • ‘There are many amusing mental games to be played on the bus when bored.’
    • ‘Villagers baked in the sun while enjoying games, rides and entertainment on the village green on Saturday.’
    • ‘That most basic of childhood games, tag, can now be played on a PC.’
    • ‘Val can't say she didn't enjoy the simple acts of childhood games.’
    • ‘Try these verbal games to engage their minds as well as their bodies.’
    • ‘During the week, members of the group are encouraged to open their hearts and minds, and to engage in group activities and games.’
    pastime, diversion, entertainment, amusement, distraction, divertissement, recreation, sport, activity, leisure activity
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A form of competitive activity or sport played according to rules.
      ‘the game of cricket’
      • ‘A fierce game of beach volley ball had erupted into play between two groups of girls.’
      • ‘It is knowledge of the rules of the game, or knowledge that certain moves that accord with these rules have been made.’
      • ‘It's vital that the game evolves to compete with other sports, and these ideas are great.’
      • ‘As with all sports, the game has followed a natural progression throughout history.’
      • ‘The guy also is the best blocking receiver in the game and is as competitive as they come.’
      • ‘Earlier this year, the house teams competed in friendly rivalry games of cricket, football and volleyball.’
      • ‘Rugby enthusiasts gave up on the sport after the game was dragged in the mud.’
      • ‘The sports complex will have facilities for indoor games including badminton, billiards, and table tennis.’
      • ‘The sides will meet in a friendly game at the Lakeside Sport and Fitness Club on Saturday.’
      • ‘They feel that for the good of the game and the competition they need to allow the holder to defend the title.’
      • ‘I didn't do too badly following the game and the rules, thanks mostly to my experience playing softball.’
      • ‘Those ancient games were real games in which athletes competed for glory and not for money.’
      • ‘You are invited to join in the fun of organising dances, publicity, events, games, competitions and much more.’
      • ‘Personally, do you believe that the third umpire concept is workable in a fast game like hockey?’
      • ‘Soccer is a winter game, Gaelic football and hurling are summer games.’
      • ‘It's no secret that much of the game of water polo revolves around the center position.’
      • ‘If soccer is not your cup of tea, you can switch to the more genteel game of tennis.’
      • ‘For the most part, hockey is truly a team game in a sports world that sells individuals.’
      • ‘So if you learn a simple tactic it can help with bigger games like netball and basketball and stuff.’
      • ‘Buddhists celebrate the New Year in March or April with coconut games and pillow fights.’
      match, contest, tournament, meeting, sports meeting, meet, event, athletic event, fixture, tie, cup tie, test match, final, cup final, play-off
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    2. 1.2games A meeting for sporting contests.
      ‘the Olympic Games’
      • ‘Granagh Youth Club hope to be involved in a number of events in the county games competitions.’
      • ‘I guessed that the boss was a sports fan and wished the same success for the restaurant as these athletes had at the games.’
      • ‘This time fingers are crossed that Catherine will do it all again in table tennis at the 2003 games.’
      • ‘Afghanistan has also conducted its first games for disabled athletes, in Kabul.’
      • ‘Rowing is the largest sport at the games with around 900 competitors.’
      • ‘But she became the first Asian sprinter to win a gold medal in those collegiate athletic games.’
      • ‘It is unfortunate because the track is quite different and that may affect their performance during the games.’
      • ‘It was the first time in the history of the games that an individual athlete had been mentioned in the closing speech.’
      • ‘He likened the Iraqi team to the East Timorese athletes at the Sydney games.’
      • ‘A spinner who has been performing honestly in these games has been him.’
      • ‘Some will simply enjoy the games as a sporting event.’
      • ‘She believed his decision to debar the Filipino athletes from the games was premature.’
      • ‘The games are the final event for the current and very successful Academy program.’
      • ‘Having said that, the Olympics were considered the cleanest of the athletic games.’
      • ‘Plato, for example, thought that training athletes for the games was of little relevance for the real world of fighting.’
      • ‘At the games, athletes will be expected to maintain good behaviour and observe a code of conduct.’
      • ‘In the list of great athletes who never competed in the games, he would be right there at the top.’
      • ‘In true British fashion we won just three gold medals at the games, the worst performance by a host country in modern Olympic history.’
      • ‘In 14 World Cup games in five previous tournaments Korea had not won a match.’
      • ‘During the games, athletes will live on university campuses in and around Dublin.’
    3. 1.3gamesBritish Athletics or sports as a lesson or activity at school.
      ‘in order to be popular, you had to be good at games’
      • ‘Children with autism and Asperger's syndrome tend to be clumsy and to struggle with games lessons at school.’
      • ‘He would not have done so had he not discovered this talent in our games lesson.’
      • ‘The sound of a typical high school games lesson vibrates beneath us, but our gaze is fixed for two, maybe three minutes.’
      • ‘We take them to their games, lessons, etc. but how much do we really interact with them?’
      • ‘After the class she left with a girl friend and was on her way to a games lesson when the boy and one of his friends joined them.’
      • ‘He said had been at his games lesson for only 15 minutes when the headteacher took him to his office, where police were called.’
    4. 1.4 The equipment for a game, especially a board game or a video game.
      ‘buy your games and software from us’
      • ‘The children say they have enjoyed the rewards of their efforts, having used the profits to buy games for the classroom and finance a trip to New Lanark.’
      • ‘In other words, people aren't buying as many games right now.’
      • ‘The money was to purchase equipment for the club, including computers, games, furniture and arts and crafts materials.’
      • ‘One child wrote to say he would never buy a new game without asking his friends for their views on it.’
      • ‘The item I actually went to the shop to buy was a game called ‘Medal of Honour’ for my PC.’
      • ‘I could buy two games for my PS1 for the price of one game on the N64.’
      • ‘She wasn't up to date on any of the systems and her parents don't let her buy Mature rated games anyway.’
      • ‘The games software alone has an equivalent retail value of £120,000.’
      • ‘Christmas is coming and the latest games are bringing computers to their knees.’
      • ‘I decided to let the pros handle it and I'll forgo buying any new games for a couple of months.’
      • ‘Monopoly is Hasbro's largest selling board game with 1.5m games sold per year.’
      • ‘I went out to Electronic Arts in Burnaby where a friend works and took advantage of his employee discount to buy some games for my dad.’
      • ‘Gradually I bought a few more games and even managed to meet a few other players.’
      • ‘Many now include editing software with their games, specifically to encourage fans to shoot movies.’
      • ‘You still need to go out to the store and buy the game - or order it online and wait a few days for it to show up.’
      • ‘What's the betting that many of them are adults buying the game for their kids?’
      • ‘They bullied their way into my apartment, uploaded the game onto my computer and demanded that I give it a try.’
      • ‘So they buy the games for their kids without realizing what they're getting.’
      • ‘This might be a game bought for kids, but you get the feeling that it is their parents who will be playing it most keenly.’
      • ‘The First Amendment does not force parents into buying these games and systems for their children.’
    5. 1.5 A person's performance in a game; a person's standard of play.
      ‘Rooks attempted to raise his game to another level’
      • ‘Town raised their game after the try, but were unable to convert pressure into points.’
      • ‘He said with a second title under his belt in two months, he would now take his game to higher levels possible.’
      • ‘It was the measure of a team and driver at the absolute top of their game and setting new standards that the rest have yet to match.’
      • ‘Teams will raise their games and we are expected to go through the season unbeaten but we have confidence in the squad.’
      • ‘It raises their game and to perform with someone of his standing is just amazing.’
      • ‘Worryingly, I could identify a few traits I'd normally associate more with my own tennis game.’
      • ‘Outstanding performer though he was beforehand, he raised his game after turning 30.’
      • ‘We've proved we can win games, it's a case now of making sure we raise our game and get quality performances when we need them.’
      • ‘Duncan has stepped up his game to a new level and is a model of consistency for the rest of the league.’
      • ‘Not one to stand still, he is determined to raise his game to a new level.’
      • ‘I hope that his strike partner and understudies take their game to the next level.’
      • ‘It needs everyone to be at the top of their game, everyone to perform to their level.’
      • ‘This Indian team has several batsmen who can raise their game to attain this level.’
      • ‘Rivals would be pushed to raise their own games, to achieve new standards.’
      • ‘But she dished out a lesson or two in the art of raising the level of her game under pressure.’
      • ‘I used to be dragged along in his wake, his excellence raising my game, forcing me to operate at a higher level too.’
      • ‘Can the other teams raise their games enough to counterbalance that potential falloff?’
  • 2A complete episode or period of play, ending in a final result.

    ‘a baseball game’
    • ‘The unusual setting and unconventional rules meant the game attracted lots of spectators.’
    • ‘When he cleaned up in the final innings of the game, he was fully vindicated.’
    • ‘They overcame a six and a half-game margin in the final 13 games to pass Philadelphia.’
    • ‘They lost six of their final 10 games and then fell to New Orleans in the playoffs.’
    • ‘The percentage of postseason games in football is notably lower than in other sports.’
    • ‘In the Winter Olympics many ice hockey games were decided by numerical advantages.’
    • ‘The final game against York was a clogged up battle with both sides showing fatigue.’
    • ‘Last year, he missed the final six games after he fractured his left fibula.’
    • ‘His downfall in the second game came as a result of a half drive with the foot not up to the pitch of the ball.’
    • ‘He was scratched for the final six games of the conference finals.’
    • ‘The final game of this series will be played in Birmingham on the December 13.’
    • ‘The team didn't play to lose its final games of the season so it could get a higher draft pick.’
    • ‘The umpires were called upon to judge on the fitness of the wicket for play and ruled the game could go ahead.’
    • ‘The goal is to get familiar with protecting a lead in the final minutes of a game.’
    • ‘We are expecting a very good game this weekend and we are confident of positive results after the game.’
    • ‘Six of their final seven games are inside a dome, making winter weather a non-issue.’
    • ‘There'll be gripping and competitive games of play-off football going on all over Europe next weekend.’
    • ‘Amazingly there were to be only two further scores in the final period of the game.’
    • ‘The team must gain some momentum going into the final six games, four of which are at home.’
    • ‘We will just try our hardest and concentrate on our final few games to get the results we need.’
    1. 2.1 A single portion of play forming a scoring unit in a match, especially in tennis.
      ‘then came another ace to set up game, set, and match’
      • ‘The eighth seed broke him in the third game of the match and from then on broke serve at will.’
      • ‘Each match consists of four games with the points total going towards each team's score.’
      • ‘Sutton's Dave and Julie were the best couple in both matches winning 27 games in each fixture.’
      • ‘The Swiss calmly wrapped up the victory on the first of three match points a game later.’
      • ‘In the final game at match point, he played a super shot to save point.’
      • ‘We squeezed all of our remaining 18 games of match play into Wednesday, the day after the attacks.’
    2. 2.2Bridge A score of 100 points for tricks bid and made (the best of three games constituting a rubber).
      • ‘A side which has already won one game towards the current rubber is said to be vulnerable.’
      • ‘A game may be made in more than one deal, such as by scoring 60 and later 40, or it may be scored by making a larger bid and earning 100 or more points in a single deal.’
  • 3informal A type of activity or business regarded as a game.

    ‘he was in the restaurant game for the glamour’
    ‘this was a game of shuttle diplomacy at which I had become adept’
    • ‘Readers might think that only the biggest Indian companies can get into the global takeover game.’
    • ‘Trade and economic growth are positive-sum games, in which there can be winners without losers.’
    • ‘We are new to this game of bidding for sports events, and haven't hosted many.’
    • ‘Now I'm frequently told that championing manufacturing is yesterday's game.’
    • ‘It often seems to be about performance, parliamentary games and all that type of nonsense.’
    • ‘Now, in the fame game that is modern cooking, Novelli already has a keen advantage.’
    • ‘At first it was just a game - buying notional shares and sitting on them.’
    • ‘She is more interested in playing some silly political game than she is about the extra tax that will be imposed.’
    • ‘Amiable careerists who can avoid making enemies have a definite leg up in this game.’
    • ‘The main thing coming into the professional game is that I didn't know where to work or what they were expecting from me.’
    • ‘The state can hire in expertise to play the private sector's game, but this simply adds to the expense.’
    • ‘They will start playing a whole new game when you're saying those things as a Senator.’
    business, profession, occupation, trade, industry, line, line of work, line of business, field, province, area
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    1. 3.1 A secret and clever plan or trick.
      ‘I was on to his little game’
      • ‘She was playing into his game and the plan was supposed to be that he played into hers.’
      • ‘This is all down to the secret game of politics they are playing.’
      • ‘We can do this, and if we wanted to stigmatize each other, we can all play this game.’
      • ‘The intent of the film, however, is not to play clever, reflexive narrative games.’
      • ‘Surely the hunt organisers are not stupid enough to believe that their little game was going to continue forever.’
      • ‘I don't plan on playing silly name games with those who plan on regulating speech for our own good.’
      • ‘Robertson, soulless puppetmaster that he is, says that the plans are just games.’
      • ‘This was the first move in a complicated and clever double game to return to power.’
      • ‘She is deliciously evil as she plots and schemes her power games.’
      • ‘He's a pawn in his game, a partner turned prey who has just one day to pick up the street smarts that will get him through.’
      • ‘Our game of secret messages is a little one-sided as his referrals don't seem to work properly.’
      • ‘The governing party, the BJP, has played an apparently clever game in getting to where it is.’
      • ‘One who thinks or says otherwise indulges in the game of double standards.’
      • ‘If you want to play this game until you come across some hard evidence, that's up to you.’
      • ‘This is a very dangerous game because who is to say he will not call their bluff?’
      • ‘They're playing a very clever game and that's why we can't see properly what's going on.’
      scheme, plot, ploy, stratagem, strategy, gambit, cunning plan, master plan, grand design, crafty designs, tactics
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  • 4mass noun Wild mammals or birds hunted for sport or food.

    ‘they hunted game in Alaska’
    • ‘Blunt cone shaped arrow heads made of bone have been found at other sites that were intended to stun or kill small game or birds.’
    • ‘The browns and tans and whites of poised game can blend with the background foliage.’
    • ‘In this way, balance between the numbers of hunters and of game was preserved through the ages.’
    • ‘There is also evidence in relation to the edges of the lake, evidence of hunting for native game.’
    • ‘They admitted being in a danger area and hunting game without permission.’
    • ‘Wildflowers are gathered for decoration, fur is worn for its warmth and game is hunted because it tastes good.’
    • ‘Using gas, smoke, poison or other stupefying substances in hunting game is also banned.’
    • ‘Home of the Bushmen, the arid reaches of the Kalahari has some spectacularly wild and remote game viewing areas.’
    • ‘They were very much plant eaters, hunting live game for either the sport or the bones to construct their settlements.’
    • ‘Forests were also the home to more animal life, in the form of wild game, than could be found as domesticated livestock.’
    • ‘Slow of foot, but agile of mind, how did he catch the speedy antelope and other game which provided him with his protein?’
    • ‘If we had nothing from the night before, I'd set off with the crossbow and go hunting small game.’
    • ‘It comes on a long rod that a hunter pushes into the ground to hold the bow while the hunter waits for game.’
    • ‘Nick did not bring extra food because he expected to catch fish or hunt game, but was unsuccessful.’
    • ‘This bill would not affect the ability of a person to operate a feeder for purposes other than hunting game.’
    • ‘I trotted slowly through the hunting grounds of our pack and looked for sign of game.’
    • ‘At least a dozen groups of hunters shoot game in this part of the Eastern Rhodopes every year.’
    • ‘Sporting shooting of game or clays is a legal pastime enjoyed by many people of all ages and from all social backgrounds.’
    • ‘They ate all their fish and then realized that was it for the day unless they were willing to hunt game.’
    • ‘The Zambian national parks are considered to have the largest concentration of game in the world.’
    1. 4.1 The flesh of wild mammals or birds, used as food.
      as modifier ‘a game pie’
      • ‘We have not yet taken up the gun but we do have a taste for fresh, wild game, and there is plenty of access to it here.’
      • ‘They can be magnificent with joints of lamb and beef or game but to be honest, a big plate of pasta is a more common sight on my dinner plate.’
      • ‘Whisky, seafood, poultry, game and confectionery remain our most popular exports.’
      • ‘Its flavour goes particularly well with saline flavours: ham, pork, sausages and game.’
      • ‘The menu is strong on game and meat dishes, with some interesting savoury ice-cream accompaniments.’
      • ‘Serfs produced their own wine, ate wild game, raised pigs and chickens, and eked out seasonal vegetables.’
      • ‘Anyone who can tell you how long to hang game, or any meat, unless you are using a butcher's chiller, is either a liar or a prophet.’
      • ‘The warning comes after reports of anonymous individuals selling meat and game from vehicles across the county.’
      • ‘Earlier news reports said the waitress worked in a restaurant that served wild game.’
      • ‘The main courses are great for those who enjoy a heady selection of game and meat.’
      • ‘The seafood and game are excellent, and the staff insist on knowing what you plan to prepare and giving advice.’
      • ‘We have undoubtedly the best beef in the world, our seafood is unbeatable, as are our game, lamb and wild mushrooms.’
      • ‘In addition to cultivated products, the farmer gathered other food from the wild such as fruits, fish, and game.’
      • ‘He insists that all the meat is Scottish and the seafood, game, fruit and vegetables are local and delivered each day.’
      • ‘This course could also be game, such as pheasant, wild goat, duck or partridge.’
      • ‘Served in a sauce with beef, game or shellfish, it can lift the flavour perfectly.’
      • ‘The rest of the carcass can be used to make some game stock for gravy or soup, or freeze the carcass to use later.’
      • ‘The Old Inn at Gairloch is famous for its seafood and game but it is worth holding back to enjoy pudding.’
      • ‘Foods to avoid include red meat, particularly game, offal, beef, pork and lamb.’
      • ‘For my ingredients I get my fish from the market at North Shields or up at Amble, and my meat and game locally.’
      wild animals, wild fowl, big game
      View synonyms
  • 5rare A group of swans.

    ‘a game of swans in a common river’
    • ‘One may prescribe to have a game of swans within his manor.’
    • ‘The city of Oxford has a game of swans by prescription.’
    • ‘A game of swans are doing it tough with killer waves.’
    • ‘You shall be of good behaviour toward the game of swans.’
    • ‘In order to have an understanding of what the conveyance of a game of swans by a London citizen to the College meant, it should be observed that the kingdom of England was divided into swan areas of large size.’


  • Eager or willing to do something new or challenging.

    ‘they were game for anything’
    • ‘Saturday's match saw a good turnout of players eager to get game time prior to the league season.’
    • ‘Game for a laugh is Denis, but I digress.’
    • ‘He was quite game about the issue, and mostly gave straight answers.’
    • ‘If you want others to be game, you've got to also be game yourself once in a while.’
    brave, courageous, valiant, plucky, bold, intrepid, stout-hearted, lionhearted, unafraid, daring, dashing, spirited, mettlesome
    willing, favourably inclined, prepared, disposed, in the mood, of a mind, desirous, eager, keen, interested, enthusiastic, ready
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  • 1with object Manipulate (a situation), typically in a way that is unfair or unscrupulous.

    ‘it was very easy for a few big companies to game the system’
    ‘politicians blamed electricity generators for gaming the market’
    • ‘Any manager interested in genuine progress, therefore, monitors the numbers carefully and looks for signs that the system is being gamed.’
    • ‘Wealth has gamed the system.’
    • ‘But it is also incumbent upon all of us to insist that nations like Iran and North Korea do not game the system.’
    • ‘That company is a case in point, where they create a "market failure" by gaming the system in their favor.’
    • ‘It's the result of speculators who gamed the system, regulators who looked the other way, lobbyists who bought their way into our government.’
    • ‘Military analysts have gamed it out.’
    • ‘Today's scandals, however, indicate that too many public corporations have been gaming the disclosure system, either subtly or brazenly.’
    • ‘It's a result of speculators who gamed the system, regulators who looked the other way, lobbyists who bought their way into our government.’
    • ‘Earlier this week FERC sent letters to more than 120 California energy producers ordering them to "admit or deny" that they gamed the market.’
    • ‘The President got gamed by bad information again as that person told Him what he wants to hear.’
    • ‘The Colonel s own assessment, made after gaming all the potentialities, is that a strike on Bushehr and associated targets is almost unavoidable.’
    • ‘I think they said it was $500 or $600 we were all paying because people were gaming in the bankruptcy system.’
    • ‘The problem is, such systems can be gamed.’
    • ‘We're trying to take a scalpel and carve out this very small percentage of the people that are gaming the system.’
    • ‘Otherwise candidates and parties would constantly game the system and change the rules, undermining the legitimacy of every election.’
    • ‘He was gaming the Time magazine most influential person poll.’
    • ‘But it's fun to hear developers talking about gaming the market as an enriching experience.’
    • ‘Either solution fails if I'm unscrupulous, and willing to take personal risk by gaming the system.’
    • ‘But the truth is, the doc and foreign process has been a problem and has been gamed by the players for years.’
    • ‘Even if they do use some fancy mathematical model to value different mortgages, those in Wall Street have long made money by gaming against these models.’
  • 2no object Play video games.

    ‘the majority of the audience are teens who game and watch anime’
    • ‘The constant tension in the game is unlike any other experience in gaming today.’
    • ‘Does your gender, in your opinion, affect how you relate to computer gaming?’
    • ‘Dundee and Los Angeles are not easily confused, but one thing they have in common is excellence in computer gaming.’
    • ‘The multiplayer mobile gaming service will initially include two games.’
    • ‘Snooker is a bit of a niche market when it comes to console gaming.’
    • ‘It's best to warn you that you can only play this if you're serious about gaming.’
    • ‘Contemporary interests include the phenomenon of fan culture and video gaming.’
    • ‘Eight artists celebrate the digital playground of games, sounds and the aesthetics of computer gaming.’
    • ‘Nintendo has been around longer than video gaming and it most likely will stay that way forever.’
    • ‘Is the idea of computer gaming tailored to young women fundamentally flawed, or are people just not doing it right?’
    • ‘You get to feed your computer gaming addiction, plus hang out with your crew.’
    • ‘While in high school and college I played the game regularly and, in the groups I gamed with, I often won; certainly well above the statistical expectations for the game.’
    • ‘Has there been a big enough paradigm shift in our culture to create a change in gaming?’
    • ‘It's a technological marvel and will give computer gaming a whole new meaning.’
  • 3no object Play gambling games.

    ‘other Russians gamed at the tables in Monte Carlo’
    • ‘All in all, the indications are that the research might tell us something about how the brain behaves when gaming.’
    • ‘It pleased me to see the diehard's still gaming the next day, at the same table as I had left them the night before.’
    • ‘The changes will not yet impact on Northern Ireland gaming laws that still ban casinos.’
    • ‘New gaming laws could also allow bingo clubs to offer other services, such as horse race betting and fruit machines.’
    • ‘Watch out for high rollers from the US gaming industry heading for Europe.’
    • ‘That's not dealt with anywhere in any gaming agreement in Canada and that's where we have to lead.’
    • ‘Canada is an important market for the poker group but there are doubts about if the firm's gaming licence is legitimate.’
    • ‘Down below, the regular punters swarm around hundreds of baize gaming tables.’
    • ‘The War Games group gamed the war-plan of the opposing side in order to try out unexpected moves.’
    • ‘Building can only begin once the government relaxes gaming laws, which is expected to happen early next year.’
    • ‘Now it is home to the main shopping mall and gaming rooms of the Casino complex.’
    • ‘When the first gaming casino was established on a reserve, a SWAT team took the chief away in chains.’
    • ‘Is it a product of the game, or is it a personality type that is predisposed to gaming?’
    gamble, bet, place bets, lay bets, wager, stake money
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  • ahead of (or behind) the game

    • Ahead of (or lagging behind) one's competitors or peers in the same sphere of activity.

      ‘this investment is needed if we are to stay ahead of the game’
      • ‘Mercedes has sought to stay ahead of the game by adorning its latest little beauty with as many technological improvements as possible.’
      • ‘When you're competing with the world's biggest CPU manufacturer, you have to move fast to stay ahead of the game.’
      • ‘In warfare, as in nature, you have to evolve to stay ahead of the game.’
      • ‘Architects cannot help influencing each other: the trick is to stay ahead of the game.’
      • ‘Ideally, the audit should be a continuing process to ensure that the practice stays ahead of the game.’
      • ‘The innovation could be seen as a way to stay ahead of the game.’
      • ‘Newspapers like Scotland on Sunday are only too aware of how hard it is to stay ahead of the game in an increasingly competitive market.’
      • ‘The opportunities do exist out there and a key factor is to stay ahead of the game.’
      • ‘You can either enlist the services of a communications group who are committed to staying years ahead of the game, or you can sell up now and cut your losses.’
      • ‘Australia of course has long been ahead of the game in its research into its migration policy.’
  • back (or still) in the game

    • Once again (or still) active or able to succeed in something.

      ‘one of the biggest R & B groups from the last decade is back in the game’
      • ‘We need to bring the consumer back in the game.’
      • ‘I'm still in the game because I want to be part of the decision making in this government.’
      • ‘He has a large voting audience, but not the moderates and swing voters he needs to get back in the game.’
      • ‘I am still in the game and might win the lovely thing outright.’
      • ‘It shows that the party is still in the game and can still recruit talent.’
      • ‘We are still in the game fighting hard and we have just taken on a leader who is going to take us from strength to strength.’
  • beat someone at their own game

    • Use someone's own methods to outdo them in their chosen activity.

      ‘we can compete against our trading rivals and beat them at their own game’
      • ‘Some of his fellow activists are less than sanguine about the shift from a strategy of opposing corporations to one of beating them at their own game.’
      • ‘This and many other books and newspaper and magazine articles recommended that European industry and commerce should learn from the methods of the Americans and try to beat them at their own game.’
      • ‘Meanwhile, Pixar not only beats them at their own game, but also sidesteps the idea that the central competition is visual by centering its latest film on wonderful characters and a meaningful plot.’
      • ‘Passionate, uninhibited and a bit weird, football fans everywhere from Scotland to Argentina knew exactly what he was saying: that there is no pleasure as sweet as beating England at their own game.’
      • ‘They need to be reminded we had eight long years of their rhetoric and we are now beating them at their own game.’
      • ‘Young stockbrokers from a York school will be going up against professionals to try and beat them at their own game.’
      • ‘Shopkeepers that want to beat Tesco at their own game need to have a strong competitive advantage.’
      • ‘He felt he had to beat them at their own game, and threw himself into his work.’
      • ‘For the European riders, the grass is their forte, and to be able to compete with them and beat them at their own game is very satisfying.’
      • ‘There is a certain pleasure in beating them at their own game, which very nearly matches a shopping buzz.’
  • the game is up

    • The deception or crime is revealed or foiled.

      ‘when the police found the body in his garden the game was up’
      • ‘From the grim expression on Frank's face, it's clear that the game is up.’
      • ‘Rather than warning relatives of impending doom, hornbills might be calling to predators to make it clear that the game is up.’
      • ‘On the surface, the game is up, and the future looks grim.’
      • ‘In their heart of hearts the brighter farmers know the game is up.’
      • ‘It has also left some very senior executives asking themselves if the game is up.’
      • ‘Various scenes involving her are well worth watching, but the key moment has to be the look on the their faces when they realise the game is up and they've lost their seats on the stock exchange.’
      • ‘It is an extremely serious matter and the time has come for those who produced those photographs to acknowledge the game is up.’
      • ‘The UK Defence Secretary said: ‘They are recognising that the game is up for him and his close supporters.’’
      • ‘If you get it right, the turkey realises the game is up and offers no resistance.’
      • ‘If - I have to use that word again, since the messages remain mixed - this is indeed what happens, it really will be an unanswerable demonstration that the game is up for worthwhile reform under Labour.’
  • game on

    • 1A signal for play to begin in a game or match.

      • ‘We were a bit disappointed, but we put in the waiting time anyway and hung onto the barriers with the thousands of others until we heard the heart-stopping sounds of the canons which signaled 'Game On'!’
      1. 1.1British informal Said when one feels that a situation is about to develop in one's favour.
        ‘She soon invited me back to her place. Game on!’
        • ‘It appeared to be game on, but for Thunder it was merely a storm in a teacup as thereafter York gleaned total control.’
        • ‘A United win on Sunday and it's game on again in the Premiership race.’
        • ‘If the noise then was loud, it was even louder just before half time when he leathered the ball past the Croat keeper and it was truly game on.’
        • ‘They will think that if they can get it down to six points, it is game on.’
        • ‘As the confidence began to surge for them all of a sudden it was game on.’
        • ‘It was game on two minutes later when he cut the deficit to one.’
        • ‘For the first time in the match it was game on, the hurling was frantic and well contested with scores hard to come by.’
        • ‘At which point, it was very much game on with both back rows utterly committed to winning the struggle at the breakdown.’
        • ‘He pulled another one back on the hour when the big centre half thumped home a free kick and suddenly it was game on.’
  • game over

    • informal Said when a situation is regarded as hopeless or irreversible.

      ‘once your customer loyalty vanishes it's game over’
      • ‘If they are able to properly cross-exam, as he clearly is, it's not game over.’
      • ‘If he wins his first Daytona 500, it will be game over for his competitors.’
      • ‘If New Zealand cross the gain-line, it is normally game over.’
      • ‘It was game over for him, and he walked away with an annoyed look.’
      • ‘Once the mohawk starts receding and the bullet belt has to be let out a couple more notches, things rapidly approach game over.’
      • ‘In normal racing circumstances it would be game over.’
      • ‘Like a great closer in baseball, he hits a back double-biceps pose, and it's game over.’
      • ‘It was effectively game over, as unfortunately from his point of view it was all too evident they were running on empty.’
      • ‘I was also still growing at that time and if my weight had gone crazy then it would have been game over, but my weight stayed low and I just decided to kick on again.’
      • ‘‘If I had scored that chance a minute after my goal, it would have been game over,’ he said.’
  • game, set, and match

    • Used to indicate a decisive victory.

      ‘the trade unions have won—game, set, and match to the workers’
      • ‘With this one, I think it is game, set, and match.’
      • ‘Ruthless in their search for more scores, their fourth goal by Mattie Kiely in the 49th minute made it the case of game, set, and match for his side.’
      • ‘A super strike it was too and effectively game, set, and match.’
      • ‘Game, set, and match for a very impressive Lismore.’
      • ‘Game, set, and match to Judge Pryor.’
      • ‘Game, set, and match to Sir Cecil.’
      • ‘Briggs scored their third goal on the three quarter hour, 3-11 to 1-6, game, set, and match to all intents and purposes.’
      • ‘Whelan and Kennedy tacked on further minors, and it was to all intents and purposes game, set, and match.’
      • ‘His brother Eoin pointed a free to leave it 3-11 to 1-3 at the interval, effectively game, set, and match at that stage for the team.’
      • ‘For thinking people this surely is game, set, and match for genetic engineering.’
      success, triumph, conquest, win, successful outcome, positive result, favourable result, landslide, achievement, coup, game, set, and match
      View synonyms
  • the Great Game

    • 1Spying.

      • ‘The British fought Persia here in the 1850s when the Great Game with Russia was at its height.’
      • ‘Turkmenistan's presidential election, which was the first contested election in the former Soviet republic since it became an independent state, marks an important new stage in the emerging new Great Game in Central Asia.’
      • ‘But few take him seriously - or think that, just as the first Afghan war was a Great Game with Russia, the Nato deployment may end a Cold War with Iran.’
      • ‘There will certainly be a Great Game unless they make much clearer what their intentions are, and how long they intend to remain there.’
    • 2The rivalry between Britain and Russia in central Asia during the 19th century.

  • make (a) game of

    • archaic Mock; taunt.

      • ‘Refusing to conflate his body at war with the nation's power, the aristocrat makes a game of war and flaunts his skill in order to accentuate the carelessness with which he abandons one theater to act in another.’
      • ‘He spends his life in chaffing and making game of his fellow-men.’
      • ‘As the sick, demented and twisted ex-girlfriend, I'm always labeled ‘the bad one,’ but you've gone your entire career making a game of women and we're always considered the bad ones.’
      • ‘‘You shouldn't make a game of these people who suffer for their families,’ a Carrolton senior said.’
      • ‘If you act like that around him, he'll make a game of it rather than take you seriously.’
  • off (or on) one's game

    • Playing badly (or well)

      ‘Aherne, on his game, has the virtues of gritty defence’
      • ‘When he was on his game, he was a tremendous offensive talent.’
      • ‘They can take bad penalties and, despite their excellent penalty killing, get off their game.’
      • ‘He can steal a playoff series if he's on his game, but the Lightning never is sure what it is going to get from him.’
      • ‘When he's on his game, he can play most pucks without flinching.’
      • ‘Owen, 21, a former Bury Boys' champion from Breightmet, had already played in a couple of Tamsel Tour events this season, conceded that he was not on his game.’
      • ‘‘We had too many players off their game at the same time against him,’ he said.’
      • ‘The crew chief needs to make sure he is on his game.’
      • ‘On nights when the Kings are on their game, the talk of how the NBA has become hard to watch should be muted.’
      • ‘There times when you get scared, but that keeps you on your game.’
      • ‘There isn't room for that, and you have to be on your game at all times.’
  • on the game

    • informal Working as a prostitute.

      ‘she had been on the game for three years’
      • ‘She thought she would be on the game and taking drugs forever - but her life changed due to the love of a good man.’
      • ‘Rumours are going round that she's pregnant again, and that she's on the game.’
      • ‘Some are on the game because of a drug problem, some just want to do that.’
      • ‘Eventually he said he could not afford to supply her any more and she must go on the game to finance her habit.’
      • ‘Many prostitutes would not need to go on the game in order to buy heroin.’
      • ‘I would hate one of my sisters to go on the game but I would feel twice as bad if either one was raped.’
      • ‘She was once a prostitute and now works with Tricia to help the girls on the game see there is more to life.’
      • ‘After your daddy died in the war we had no money, so I went on the game.’
      working as a prostitute, involved in prostitution, whoring, prostituting oneself, selling oneself, selling one's body, walking the streets, on the streets, practising the oldest profession, working in the sex industry
      View synonyms
  • the only game in town

    • informal The only thing worth concerning oneself with.

      ‘right now, the date with Babs looked as if it was the only game in town’
      • ‘But if yours is one of the 100 million homes in Europe to which MTV is distributed today, you will know that it is no longer the only game in town.’
      • ‘In a sense it more or less constitutes, as far as public sphere activity is concerned, the only game in town.’
      • ‘I think they took the attitude that they were the only game in town and you had to play by their rules.’
      • ‘Broadcasting was the only game in town for distributing electronic media to large audiences - no Internet, no cable, no satellites, home video or DVDs.’
      • ‘In many communities, small businesses are the only game in town.’
      • ‘Drumheads made of animal skins were the only game in town from cave-man times until the 1950s, when synthetic drumheads were first introduced.’
      • ‘Where television is concerned, comedy seems to be the only game in town.’
      • ‘Since coming to power, he has relied on the media to present him as a great and popular leader, and to proclaim his anti-welfare measures and pro-business politics as the only game in town.’
      • ‘This has happened already, where farmers' markets, once the only game in town, now face competition from better farmers' markets and shops.’
      • ‘Obviously it's easier to make money when you are the only game in town.’
  • out of the game

    • No longer active or able to succeed in something.

      ‘the politician's been out of the game for five years’
      • ‘It seems to me that he has been out of the game for too long.’
      • ‘He has been out of the game for five years, and now, you can see, he wants to get back in.’
      • ‘I should have been out of the game, but I was forced into the fund-raising business.’
      • ‘I don't agree with people who say he will be quickly forgotten once he's out of the game.’
      • ‘I've been out of the game for a while and I've let myself become lazy.’
      • ‘The way I see it in the Jones fight, I was out of the game before the fight even started.’
  • play someone's game

    • Advance another's plans, whether intentionally or not.

      ‘to what extent are they playing the government's game?’
      • ‘He suggested that in order to achieve greater legitimacy, social movements need to avoid playing the opposition's game of utilising exaggeration to make a case and stick to the facts.’
      • ‘He is playing the columnist's game of making a fuss to get noticed.’
      • ‘Morocco's obstinacy is rooted in the fact that it has everything to lose - and not much to gain - by playing his game.’
      • ‘China is playing the West's game and in the long term can be the big winner.’
      • ‘‘Projects which you consider strategically important,’ I respond, playing his game for him.’
      • ‘‘You're playing his game!’ snorted a Channel 4 News presenter at the New Labour minister, alleging that the government was trying to ‘frighten people into voting for you’.’
      • ‘This left a rump of angry, alienated straight men who had been brought up with a sense of masculine entitlement, only to find that nobody else was interested in playing their game.’
      • ‘Being no respecter of politicians, he is refusing to flatter him by playing his game.’
      • ‘If you believe this, you are playing his game of deception.’
      • ‘Let us not play the government's game by focusing on his job: let us examine how he does his.’
  • play the game

    • Behave in a fair or honourable way; abide by the rules.

      • ‘I am guilty of getting my hopes up when somebody plays the game with a little more class and independence than usual.’
      • ‘I would just like to be remembered as someone who played the game, and played fair.’
      • ‘It has been my belief that you play the game according to the rules even as you work to change them.’
      • ‘He behaved and played the game in the correct spirit and led by example.’
      • ‘The foundation of a democratic system is playing the game by the rules.’
      • ‘But this will only work to discredit someone if the media plays the game.’
      • ‘In short they made it clear to journalists that they either played the game according to Labour rules or they had no future as a political reporter.’
      • ‘St Johnstone are paying the price, it appears, for not playing the game.’
      • ‘In their slavish desire to appear ‘fair and balanced’ the media plays the game for wingnuts by giving their talking points equal weight when there is no factual basis for them whatsoever.’
      • ‘The rules are being rewritten while people are still playing the game.’
      play fair, be fair, play by the rules, abide by the rules, follow the rules, conform, be a good sport, toe the line, keep in step
      View synonyms
  • play games

    • Deal with someone or something in a way that lacks due seriousness or respect.

      ‘she was grief-stricken and you played games with her’
      • ‘Basically, he said, he was playing games, and fooling himself more than anyone else.’
      • ‘You would think he'd have learned by this age that Olive is just playing games with his heart.’
      • ‘It is also clear that she did play games - a good deal of trickery was employed.’
      • ‘None of us on this side of the House plays games when we are presented with serious propositions to defend the national interest.’
      • ‘They are the ones who are in the business of playing games and showing off.’
      • ‘I got the feeling that some of them were playing games with us.’
      • ‘When the legislature laughs at him and starts playing games, he's not going to get it.’
      • ‘He said the teen was not playing games with the court and pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.’
      • ‘After another thwarted attempt at discourse, she finally snaps that he can't keep playing games with her.’
      • ‘It seems that they're still only playing games with you, but trust me there's more at stake than you know.’
  • what's your (or the) game?

    • informal What's going on?

      • ‘"What's your game?" he demanded hoarsely.’
      • ‘Seriously, what's the game with Dennis?’


Old English gamen ‘amusement, fun’, gamenian ‘play, amuse oneself’, of Germanic origin.




Main definitions of game in English

: game1game2



  • (of a person's leg) permanently injured; lame.

    ‘his game leg was playing him up’
    • ‘I could still make a go of it, even with my game leg, with a few chickens and my garden.’


Late 18th century: originally dialect, of unknown origin.